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Ballads are narrative folk-songs or folk poems made up of simple four-line stanzas, usually rhyming abcb. They have been current in Europe since the Middle Ages, and some derive from a folk oral tradition.The verse forms are often simple and repetitive, often handed down and embellished from generation to generation, and tell stories popular among the people. Most ballads are written in the ‘ballad stanza’, a four-line stanza, alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. This can also be scanned as a couplet of fourteen-syllables lines:
Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where, / Nor any drop to drink.
Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’